Do we have any moral obligations to distant or future people?
You would lay down your life to save your mom, or your little sister. If they were starving, or being poisoned to death, you'd move heaven and earth to help them. Every minute of every day, innocent mothers and little girls across the globe are dying of starvation or toxic pollution. More will die in the next generation. What makes them different from your mom or your little sister? Are they too far away? Is the problem that you cannot see or imagine them? Is it that your moral responsibility extends only to your genetic tribe or regional population or nation?
It's so easy these days to harm others without knowing we are doing it. What you eat, what you buy, what you drive profoundly affects the life prospects of other people. Are you responsible for the well-being of people you've never met on the other side of the globe? What about for the future generations who will inherit our planet someday? If so, what are you morally obligated to do (to sacrifice?) for their sake?
How do we behave ethically in such an interconnected world?
SUGGESTED MATERIALS TO BE READ, VIEWED, OR LISTENED TO BEFORE CLASS:
The resources below are intended to give students an introduction to the problem that presents them with some of the major issues of the debate without going into much detail about any specific issue.
Do: Ask students to think about and discus the following questions:
* For additional ideas on assignments and lesson plan you might develop with this material, visit our Suggestions for incorporating lessons ethics into your course page.